Laura’s letter is in response to a letter from Margaret MacDiarmid, MLA, which is also printed below, so you may want to read that letter first:
Dear Ms MacDiarmid,
While I appreciate your response, I do feel frustrated with the “form” rhetoric I am receiving and hearing from your party.
I and my community are asking for a restoration of funding to 2008/09 levels, not to 2002. How can that possibly support inflation levels? Wages, fees and general costs have increased since then, yet you are proposing a reversal??
Secondly, the arts and culture sector are such a small portion of the government’s budget. Why strike people who are already down? I am not interested in what the government has done in the past at this point. I am only interested in what it is doing now and what it will do in the future.
If the government is so supportive of arts, culture and sport, why such drastic cuts? Just stating that the economy is in trouble isn’t enough, especially since we represent such a small portion of your budget. In tough times, my preference is to reinforce investment in arts and culture because it is an economic stimulant. You seem to be gaining revenue with the imposed HST and much higher gambling limits. Where is that money going?
Frankly, it is scary to me that your party is so un-concerned about the impact this is going to have on people’s lives. Not only in the arts and culture sector, but in sport and education as well. Gambling was made tolerable because much of the revenues were going out to charitable causes. Now, it just seems like the government is propping up addiction so it can benefit for itself. Where is the government’s commitment here to public service?
Direct Access money was the one sure thing that could help my organization stay alive. It was free from peer-assessment and organizations could benefit from its community-based mandate. Now, the only thing I’m sure of is hope and prayer. Just imagine if politicians like yourself were suddenly told that up to 92% of your wages were going to be cut next year. Would you still want to be an MLA? Yet for artists especially, it seems we are constantly unemployed or underemployed. All because this is the career we choose. Why should we be punished for trying to improve life? Art improves lives and makes our souls rich. There are several studies that show its benefits. I think it’s the wrong path you are taking and I hope the BC Liberals will reverse the cuts.
Laura Di Cicco
Artistic and Managing Director
In response to this letter from Margaret MacDiarmid, MLA:
Dear Ms. Di Cicco,
I am writing to follow-up on our September 8th meeting. Thank you for your patience while I gathered the information that I committed to provide you. When we spoke, you expressed concern about recent reductions in funding for the arts and I committed to provide you with some data regarding the state of arts funding in British Columbia.
From 2002 to 2005, annual BC Arts Council grants were consistently in the $11m range. Since 2005, the Government has increased BC Arts Council funding for four consecutive years, to the point where it reached over $18m in the fiscal year ending in 2009. Also in 2009 the Government provided supplementary funding in the amount of $7m, bringing the total BC Arts Council funding to an unprecedented $25m. Four years of steady funding, followed by four consecutive years of increases demonstrates the Government’s long-term commitment to the arts and recognition of the important role that they play in our community.
If you would like to learn more about funding for the BC Arts Council, you can review their annual reports here: http://www.bcartscouncil.ca/mediaroom/publications.htm
In 2009/10, BC Arts Council funding will return to the $11m range. This reduction in funding is in response to a significant drop in Government revenue as a result of a global economic downturn. As we discussed in our meeting, in these circumstances the Government has been forced to make difficult decisions in order to ensure that key services such as health care and education get the funding they need in order to maintain the high quality of service that British Columbians have come to expect.
I understand that reductions in funding can be difficult and when those reductions are in an area that is important to you, they can be doubly frustrating. I hope you can take comfort in the government’s track record on arts funding over the past eight years and in the fact that we are working day and night to build a foundation that will allow British Columbia to come out of this downturn stronger than ever.
Margaret MacDiarmid, M.L.A.